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Oscar Pistorius's sentencing hearing began today. It's expected to take three days. The defense says it will call four witnesses. The prosecutor says he will call at least one witness.
The defense will likely focus on Oscar's mental condition, physical disability, contribution to society and professional achievements.
The first witness is Dr Lore Hartzenberg, Oscar's psychologist. She testified Oscar is now a broken man who has lost everything -- his moral and professional reputation and career. She says he is he’s respectful, caring and well-mannered.
South Africa's prisons are notoriously unsanitary and overcrowded. The disabled are at a considerable disadvantage because of a lack of adequate medical services. Inmate on inmate violence is rampant.
Hopefully, the judge will resist public pressure and and impose an alternative sentence. Oscar was acquitted of murder. The judge ruled he did not intend to kill Reeva. He's suffered enough for his negligence. [More...]
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Some things I missed while focusing on ISIS the past few weeks: DOJ filed a huge Superseding Indictment against El Chapo (Joaquin Guzman Loera) and Ismael Zambada Garcia in a 2009 case in the Eastern District of New York. You can read it here. The two Sinaloa chiefs are now charged more than 20 murders of police officials and members of the Carillo Fuentes, Arellano-Felix and Zetas cartels; more than 170 drug counts ranging from 2003 to 2014, involving 465,000 kilograms of Cocaine, importation, drug offenses involving pot, heroin and meth, money laundering, use of firearms during the crimes and attempted murder. The Government is seeking to forfeit $14 billion in profits.
Why is the Government loading up on El Chapo, who remains in custody in Mexico and is unlikely to be extradited anytime soon? Or Zambada-Garcia who also has other pending indictments, in Illinois and the District of Colombia? It's not seeking the death penalty(Mexico won't extradite anyone where the death penalty is on the table and the last page of the indictment says no death penalty is sought). [More...]
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Real Housewives of New Jersey co-star Teresa Giudiuce was sentenced to 15 months in prison yesterday, while her husband Joe received a 41 month sentence, in a federal fraud case. The Indictment included 41 counts of bank fraud, loan application fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and mail and wire fraud. Joe was also charged with tax offenses. Teresa pleaded guilty to four counts and Joe to five.
While I've never seen their TV show, I think the case has some interesting elements worth discussing.[More...]
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Oklahoma will seek the death penalty will be filed against Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolan. The grounds:
[DA Greg] Mashburn said he will allege the victim’s death was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. He said he also will allege Nolen is a continuing threat to society, Nolen put more than one person at great risk of death and Nolen has been previously convicted of a felony involving violence against a person.
Nolan is being held without bond. He has not yet been appointed counsel and at his arraignment yesterday, asked for a Muslim attorney. The Judge said the public defender will be appointed, and he did not know if the PD's office had any Muslim attorneys.
Nolan reportedly confessed to the beheading, which happened the day he was fired from the food processing plant. Police say he was fired after a co-worker complained to Human Resources he didn't like white people. The co-worker was the second worker he attacked, who lived. Nolan had worked for the food processing plant since January, 2013.
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The U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey must not like reality TV. Teresa Giudice (Real Housewives of New Jersey) and her husband Joe are scheduled to be sentenced on October 2. The 41 original charges related to bankruptcy fraud and obstruction were pared down in a plea deal. Her guidelines are 21 to 27 months, but her lawyer is requesting probation. Her husband is likely to get more, but still under 5 years. And they owe creditors $13.5 million. [More....]
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Judge Masipa has finished reading her verdict in the Oscar Pistorius trial. He is not guilty of murder but guilty of culpable homicide. She found him guilty of one count of negligent handling of a firearm (the one that went off in the restaurant) and not guilty of another firearm charge (shooting through his sunroof.) She found him not guilty of illegal possession of ammunition.
I think she was very thorough and her ruling on the homicide charge was correct. Recap of her ruling below. (For yesterday's verdict reading, see here.) [More...]
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4:15 am: Glad I stayed up for one more segment. The Judge has just rejected premeditated murder. The state failed to prove its case. She spent some time saying Oscar was a poor witness and not candid with the court, but said that isn't enough to conclude he's guilty. His testimony must be viewed in conjunction with all the evidence presented. Again, it's going to be not guilty of premeditated murder, but she's leaning towards guilt on culpable homicide. She has discretion in sentencing at that charge. Big loss for the arrogant, bellicose prosecutor. Huge win for the defense, blocking a life sentence.
2:55 am MT: Judge takes a half hour break. I'm done for the night, fairly confident that the Judge will find him not guilty of premeditated murder, having rejected most of the state's case. After finishing the issue of premeditation, she recounted Oscar's testimony and his conflicting statements which included that he did not shoot intentionally, he shot accidentally, and he shot unconsciously, without thinking. She doesn't buy his version, and cites him having released the safety mechanism and that he also said he fired because he thought someone was in the bathroom and might come out and attack him. It sounds like she will find him not guilty of the more serious premeditated murder charge and is moving onto his intent in shooting and the "culpable homicide" charge. It's not looking good for Oscar on the culpable murder charge -- it sounds like she thinks he could have foreseen that someone would be shot and killed even if that was not his intent, but she's not done yet. [More...]
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Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict tomorrow on Oscar Pistorius. Time Magazine has this rundown of how the verdict will be delivered and the possible outcomes.
The Guardian has this summary of the charges and each sides' arguments.
[I]f there are any convictions on the four charges Pistorius faces — murder and three unrelated firearm charges — sentences will only be decided later at a separate hearing.
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Driving this afternoon and listening to CNN on Sirius, the main story was not ISIS or Syria, it was a new audio of the Michael Brown shooting that a passer-by captured on his cell phone while video-chatting with a woman. As he tells her how fine she looks, there are gunshots in the background. Either 10 or 11, depending on the guest they were interviewing. But all could clearly hear about a three second pause between the first round of five or six, and the final ones. They then replayed four interviews of eye witnesses, all of whom said there was a pause in the shooting as Brown turned around and put his hands up.
The significance? Unclear, since it's not been confirmed the tape is authentic or reliable, and obviously, the network doesn't have the original recording. The FBI has also been given a copy.
Here's a thread for all topics related to the Brown shooting.
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Ferguson police have changed their story again about whether officer Darren Wilson stopped Michael Brown after suspecting him on robbing cigars from a convenience store. At a press conference today, the police chief said Wilson did not stop Brown because he was a robbery suspect but because he was blocking the streets.
The Ferguson police officer who shot Michael Brown didn’t stop him because he was suspected in a recent robbery, but because he was “walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic,” the city’s police chief said Friday.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told reporters the alleged “robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer and Michael Brown.”
After the conference, he told the St Louis Dispatch the officer might have stopped Brown because he saw cigars in his hand and knew there was a robbery.[More...]
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Closing arguments have ended in the Oscar Pistorius trial. The judge will issue her ruling on September 11.
You can listen to the arguments on Soundcloud here.
The defense said it comes down the 20 seconds where he was standing at the entrance to the bathroom. He was standing there without legs, facing the door. He hears the sounds and fires the shot - was that reasonable? If the judge finds that was reasonable, she must acquit him.
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Former cartel and AUC right-wing paramilitary honcho Don Berna, aka Diego Murillo, who is serving 31 years in a Florida prison, has written a book. In it, he says it was his brother Rodolfo Murillo Bejarano, alias “Semilla,”, not the Search Bloc cop Hugo Aguilar who fired the shot that killed Pablo Escobar.
Berna was one of the leaders of the Pepes (Persecuted by Pablo Escobar). Aguilar has since been sentenced to 9 years in prison for his ties to the AUC. [More...]
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Colmin Smith, age 48, was flying from Antigua to London with 239 grams of cocaine (about 1/2 pound) in pellets in his stomach. Shortly after the packed Virgin Atlantic flight took off, the pellets burst. He managed to tell a flight attendant right before he lost consciousness.
The plane made an emergency landing in Bermuda, where medics performed emergency surgery at the airport, and then took him to the hospital. He survived, and then had to face the judge.
The penalty: No jail, just a fine of 417 pounds (about $700.00). Why did he catch such a break? [More...]
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Yesterday the feds arrested Stephen Silva of Cambridge, MA for heroin dealing and possession of a firearm with a partially obliterated serial number. Leaks from law enforcement claimed the gun is the one used to kill a Cambridge police officer days after the Boston Marathon bombings.
In June, the Judge in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's case said he was very concerned about leaks but declined to issue a gag order. He should be more concerned now. As should the judge in Silva's case, since Silva isn't charged with anything related to the bombing, the Tsarnaev's or the officer's shooting.
He was charged with unlawful possession of a gun that had an altered or obliterated serial number. That police say it's the same gun that killed the officer says nothing about how the Tsarnaev's got it. Silva could have given it to any number of people who might have given it to the Tsarnaevs. Or, maybe someone paid a drug debt to Silva with the gun, and not being into guns, he sold it the next day, and his buyer sold or gave it to Tsarnaev.
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Juror Daniel Antonino told reporters the jury believed the laptop had been taken "because it was valuable, plain and simple," and not to influence the investigation.
The defense will appeal. Among other things, they say Azamat was prejudiced by the split verdict form.
Moral of the story: Don't talk to the Feds without a lawyer. Our prisons are filled with people who thought if they could only tell their side of the story, the cops would see it their way. It rarely happens. Ask for a lawyer immediately and don't talk until you've consulted one. [More...]
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